tv Mc Laughlin Group PBS June 8, 2014 3:30pm-4:01pm EDT
from washington, the mclaughlin group, the american original. for over three decades, the sharpest minds, best sources, hardest talk. issue one, bergdahl bruhaha. >> the united states always had a pretty sacred rule. and that is, we don't leave our men or women in uniform behind. and that dates back to the earliest days of our revolution. >> president obama is defending his decision that led to the release of u.s. sergeant, bowe
bergdahl. captured by the taliban in exchange for five taliban detainees that the u.s. had been holding at the guantanamo bay, cuba, prison facility. the president announced the swap on saturday, one week ago, flanked by bergdahl's parents, but this week the tone of that ceremony changed abruptly to a defensive tone on the part of the white house. according to the "new york times" account this week, five years ago in june 2009, bergdahl walked away from his unit which was stationed at a remote military outpost in afghanistan. again, according to the "new york times," bergdahl left behind a note saying that he had become disillusioned with the u.s. mission in afghanistan. in hostile territory and without weapons. bergdahl was then seized by the taliban. reportedly search missions were mobilized to find the missing soldier. this week, members of
bergdahl's former platoon are voicing bitterness. they see bergdahl as a traitor. >> it's desertion. it's walking away from the bond of brotherhood that is sacred on the battlefield. >> some of bergdahl's platoon members claim as many eight soldiers were killed in various search missions over the years since 2009, but cautioned against leaping to any such conclusions. >> i do not know specific circumstances or details of u.s. soldiers dying as a result of efforts to find and rescue sergeant bergdahl. >> also, president obama stated and emphasized his responsibility as commander in chief. >> you have a couple of parents whose kid volunteered toight in a distant land. who they hadn't seen in five
years. and weren't sure whether they would ever see again. and as commander in chief of the united states armed forces, i am responsible for those kids. i make absolutely no apologies for making sure that we get back a young man to his parents and that the american people understand that this is somebody's child. and that we don't condition whether or not we make effort to try and get them back. >> question, why is there such an uproar over exchanging five senior taliban commanders for sergeant bergdahl? pat buchanan. >> john, look. we have to get back our people who have been left behind and lost, but you do not trade five nazi generals for private edi sloe van who deserted.
this is the problem. it's a trade, it's first that the white house and the president either were unaware they were dealing with an individual credibly alleged to be a deserter. secondly, they gave away topnotch taliban people. third, the white house was utterly unaware they would cause a fire storm, which would cripple the president's trip to europe. he would divide the country. it would split the military and hound him for one week from a preplanned rose garden ceremony, john. i think the decision is indefensible and i don't think he would do what he did again. >> eleanor. >> well, i disagree. the sacred trust between the government and the people who go to war on behalf of the government and its people is that we do bring back our people. that is not only reserved for heros, it's reserved for everybody. now, if in fact he did plan to desert that can be litigated later.
the pentagon already did one investigation and they concluded that he had wandered off base twice, once in california, once in afghanistan, this was the third time. the suggestion is he didn't plan to come back. he did tell people he wanted to walk to india. that has not been proven. but maybe he will be court marshaled. that needs to be judged. trades in order to bring back american p.o.w.'s have been done going back to the revolutionary war. the five taliban figures apparently do not have american blood on their hands, so to speak, and eventually all those people in guantanamo are going to have to come out one way or another. >> these are the four factors that i have enlisted as to why this occurred. the lopsided nature of the swap and likely the taliban will return to the fight. the reason for the controversy. two, the long standing negotiation policy with
terrorists, and the risk that more americans will be taken hostage. three, the institutional battle between the executive and legislative branch. you can explain that to me in a moment, please david. and four, bergdahl and his possible dereliction of duty are worse whether it was desertion. do you want to enlarge on in this. >> do you know what i think is really going on? there are questions about sergeant bergdahl that have to be answers. there are questions about whether he didn't consult them. what is really going on is the american public are very conflicting about the ending of this war. all wars are hard to end, but the american public want two things. they want this war to end as soon as possible, but with the reaction to the taliban commanders being released is the american public is in denial about how bad it's going to feel when this war ends. how like a defeat it will feel. the truth is, in 2016 when
combat operations cease, there's no legal basis to hang on to most of the taliban in guantanamo bay. there are going to be taliban guys in control of great chunks of afghanistan after 2016 because that's the logical consequence of walking away and the american public, they want us to walk away from afghanistan. they don't want soldiers left there, but they aren't ready to see the taliban back in charge of chunks of afghanistan. that's the deeper meaning. >> hold on, mort. what happened after bergdahl's release? >> on wednesday of this week, the taliban put out a 17 minute video showing bowe bergdahl's first minutes of freedom. here he is in this vehicle looking pale and blinking in the sunlight at the designated dropoff spot. armed taliban fighters keep watch from the surrounding hills. a man holds a white flag aloft
and escorts bergdahl to the american soldiers. bergdahl is patted down before climbing into the helicopter. the video closes with the helicopter flying away and the super imposed message from the taliban, don't come back to afghanistan. >> question, in this video, does it appear to you that sergeant bergdahl is in such poor shape that there was no time to notify congress about the taliban prisoner swap? mort. >> well, it's hard to tell from this kind of visual presentation of what was going on. that, of course, is what was being said in order to justify the fact that he had to be released and they had to do whatever they had to in order to make sure that they saw some kind of film in which the administration argues, he looked so ill they felt they had to move quickly and that was a part of their rational for going ahead with this transaction. >> the white house actually aired that film in a video in a classified briefing with
members of congress. and congressman came out and said he looked strange, but that aside, the administration was going to lose leverage in afghanistan, pulling the troops out. i think they were afraid if they left bergdahl there, the taliban would up the price for him. might threaten to behead him. i think they thought this was the best opportunity to retrieve him rather than leaving it to chance to see how this would spin out and unlikely they would get a better deal. >> hold on, pat, hold on. when obama asserts the justification that the u.s. does not leave its soldiers behind, is he conveniently omitting that while leaning on tradition, he omits the unpresented nature of his prisoner exchange, specifically, obama is omitting that long standing u.s. policy under democratic and g.o.p. presidents that it has been not to negotiate with terrorists over hostages. until obama, no president has done that. >> taliban is not terrorists.
>> look, i don't give validation to the argument, we don't negotiate with taliban or anybody else, we certainly do. the problem here is with bergdahl himself when susan rice goes out the next morning and says he served this country with distinction and honor, that set off an incredible fire storm because it was known this guy had deserted and people out there in middle america who don't care about the taliban or afghanistan, what are you doing trading five terrorists for a guy who deserted and then declaring him a hero. >> i don't disagree with you, but on that video, sure ly he looked like a young kid. there was discussion that as reporters, someone made the good point, a good reason why he may have looked terrified, he had been clean shaven, and there were guys with video cameras from the taliban. that means you're about to have your head cut off.
>> they were afraid of a beheading, you're exactly right about that. >> a young guy who looks terrified. for the republicans to demonize him before we know the truth is risky. >> and the taliban has not been considered a terrorist organization. it is an insurgent army, which is why he was considered a p.o.w. if the taliban were terrorists, he would have been considered a hostage. they seem like a fine point. >> the problem is holding a rose garden ceremony for somebody who was widely believed to be a deserter, maybe a defector and maybe a clash collaborator. >> you call that a political mistake. >> the pentagon knew all about it. if you bring him home, bring him home. >> hold on. >> a political mistake in the sense the administration says the white house has a gift for taking something that should have been an easy victory and turning it into something far more problematic. >> followed the president all
across europe. it was devastating caused by the white house staff. >> the verdict of this is not going to turn on whether there was a rose garden appearance or not. it's going to turn out on eventually how the facts are sorted out. >> one possible explanation for obama's desire to secure his release that obama views bergdahl as a kindred spirit, just as obama has been an unwilling participate in the iraq and afghanistan wars and eager to end them as quickly as possible. bergdahl has become an unwilling participant. obama may view him as a kindred spirit. that is not cause for laughter. >> the president is the commander in chief. he is responsible for an american soldier that is held by the enemy. >> a lot of americans, too. >> he surged huge numbers of troops into afghanistan. he's a man who doesn't like to use military force and skeptical of military force.
but he did pull huge numbers of troops. >> this was to be a bookend to it. the last prisoner was coming home and a problem, i find obama less than i find his staff for not alerting him to what the response would be to a preplanned ceremony and the rose garden. what is the matter with these people? >> okay, this week's presidential travel plus a g-7 meeting and prospective meeting with president putin led obama to the nearest gym to erase and ease and work on his pecks. >> question, does this video show president obama to be an every man? mort, you can speak while you see the president, your president, your leader exercising. >> well, i mean, i know this is quite an unusual thing for someone to have some exercise. if that is your version of an every man, good luck. i mean, this seems to be something fairly normal and i would have done a lot more exercise before i did this
release. >> every man in a sense the secret service didn't clear out the hotel gym. i guess he was just mixing with the guests which is how they got that video. some guest must have had his or her iphone. >> i would like to know what the weight was on those weights. >> i think 2 or 3-pounds, the ones i use, john. >> still using them? >> sure. >> you got all your equipment? >> no, i don't have all equipment. i have small stuff that i walk with. >> how about you? >> i bicycle. i'm a european. what can i say? >> you bicycle? >> yeah, i bicycle, to work and back. i'm european, that's what we do. >> a little dangerous in washington. we are the worse drivers in the country. issue two, e.u. kaput? >> if i was on their side of the fence, i was thinking intelligencely, i would say in fact, we should start again and the next commission president should be somebody who recognizes the level opposition to the project. actually would hand some powers back to the member states as a
means of buying off the increase in skeptic values, but they are not thinking like that. they will carry on regardless. >> nigel is united kingdom independent party, the ukip wants great britain out of the european union. the ukip was one of the big winners in last week's european parliamentary voting. some 20 million voters and 28 member countries cast ballots. in elections that france's prime minister terms a quote, unquote, political earthquake. and france, the national front vested both major parties with 26% of the vote. in england, the ukip beat labor and the conservatives with 28% of the vote. the ukip win broke 100 years of dominance by the two major parties. in spain and up start party, we can. defeated both major parties.
the euro skeptic parties were the clear winners in nations spread from greece to great britain. the next european parliament is seated, 1/3 of the representatives will be antiestablishment or antieuropean union. the losers, europe's elite. brussel's bureaucrat. quite possibly, the election outcome is the most moe men studies defense momentous event since 1948. even the economist magazine, that accomplishment is calling into question whether or not the european union will be able to survive. >> question, how do you account for the surge in antiestablishment parties across europe?
david renny. >> it's very different in a country like britain where what people want is much, much less europe. that's what they always wanted and the guy you saw there, nigel, his big success frankly was making europe about immigration. so he's managed to make people, all the anger people in lots of countries feel about immigration, that has been focused on europe. in other countries, people want europe to be a protectionism and they blame europe for globalization. what is absolutely clear is that an elite level, top down project, which has stuff that the economists support is being scapegoated and blamed by voters in a very dangerous way. >> the real problem, if i may say, how weak the european economy is. everybody thought once you got together and had this larger economic, sort of unit in which to work, okay, the things would get better, they haven't gotten better. in fact, they have gotten worse. that accounts for the decline and the support of the common market. >> it does not work as most of the people on the street
expected it to work. >> economies is only part of it. what you have here is transnationalism, which was the real move in the last 20 years, i would say, has given way to nationalism and localism and even triablism, the desire, the french to be french, the hungarians to be hungarians. it's the most powerful move. it's why putin has crimea. >> these are bad times and in bad times, people tend to turn to right wing populism. i wish the left would learn how to exploit these grievances a little better. and there are some left wing parties in this skepticism group as well. but you know, i still think the eu stays together because germany is the banker and it's chiefly a forum to funnel money from germmy germany to the
other country. >> here's one explanation. the economy, quote, this is the consequence of years of crazy austerity policies that destroyed the lives of several million people. people became disenchanted with the european union. their reaction has been to turn to those leaders that are national level who are proposing a national way out of the eu's confused way of thinking, unquote. so says paul, founder of the cipi foundation policy think tank. >> question, what is the root cause of europe's economic malaze? i ask you, david. >> look, europe is an expensive place to do business. people are paid reasonably well. people have generous social benefits. in some countries, you can have unemployment payments for life, there's no cut off. it's not like america. they last for ever. and you know, like the middle of america, competition from china, competition from the
east has not a lot of jobs. taken away those old blue collar jobs. europe's problem is people losing faith in what europe could offer by ways of solution. if europe can get it right, the hope was that europe could use competitive advances and create a big single market which would allow europe to survive as a rich, comfortable place to live against this cheap competition. people are losing faith in that project. >> in deep doodoo, can we agree on that? is this the beginning of the end of the eu? we'll get that in a moment, but will prime minister cameron stick with his plan referendum on britain's membership? >> it depends on whether he wins the election before then. certainly he will have to now and there's a question whether he may have to lose earlier than that, john. look, the forces have become dominant over the forces pulling things together in
europe. >> let's have a round robin. let's tie this up. is this the beginning of the end for the eu, yes or no? >> no. >> no. >> i hope not. >> give me a yes or a no. >> no. >> i said no. >> the answer is yes. issue three, putin's eurasia pivot. >> from the outset of this crisis, the g7 nations have stood united. clear in our support for the ukrainian people and right to choose their own future and firm in our message to president putin that russia's actions are unacceptable and at odds of the values. >> the g7, formally the g8, composed of the u.s., japan, britain, france, germany, italy, canada, and russia. met in brussels this week without russian president vladimir putin. the g7 issued an ultimatum.
face further economic sanction. but, putin may have moved beyond the ukraine crisis already. last month, putin launched an asian pivot when his summitwith chinese leader yielded an economic breakthrough. get this, after ten years of negotiations, russia and china agreed to a 30 year natural gas contract unofficially valued at $400 billion. russia and china will build a pipeline across the border to feed china's energy appetite. the deal will make china second only to germany as a major customer of russian natural gas. the deal will not reduce russian exports to the european union, however, which flow from different oil and gas fields in
western russia. at $90 billion of two-way commerce in 2013, china is already russia's largest trade partner. >> question, what is the strategic impact of russian president, vladimir putin's eurasian pivot? >> putin is looking for allies and new markets and he struck a deal with china. china really got a good deal. he's selling the gas much less to them than he could get in europe. so i think it's wrong to look at putin as the big winner here. i think he is taking on ukraine and crimea. they are basket cases. he edged himself out of the world community. he is selling a finite resource. he doesn't have a diversified economy, so i don't think we have reason to be worried about putin suddenly ruling the world because he formed this alliance with china. >> i think it's a great cue for
putin and for russia. >> that's right, because this is going to give him another alternative in terms of what he can do with his natural resource. this is a major natural resource. they are also going to be paying for a big part of the pipeline that is going to be a huge asset over decades, not just over the ten year contract that they have already signed. so it's a major plus for the soviet economy, for the russian economy, which is exactly what putin needs. >> john, strategically, the great achievement of our boss was splitting these two rivals apart and giving us access to the chinese. now this move back together, i don't know how enduring it's going to be, but it is strategically important in my view is quite frankly, russia belongs in europe. so in this case, i commend some of the europeans who are trying to make sure putin doesn't drift out there too far where all he has left is to turn to china. you know.
>> mixing with president, right? who had to breakthrough to china and in a sense, establish an alliance between china and the united states. >> if you look at the degrees which china is band into western supply chains and its manufacturing, eleanor is right, russia is a crude producer of oil and gas, rather than the sophisticated partner of china. china and russia do not trust each other. i used to live in china. the chinese do not trust the russians. they are paranoid next to china. this is a hedge, as mort says. >> by the way, excuse me, french president is poised to go through with a $1.6 billion sale of offensive weapon systems this fall. some 400 russian sailors will arrive in frank to train to use the ships. he is ignoring obama's squawking about this sale. obama doesn't like the sale.
he doesn't want anything good to happen to putin. but putin is cleaning up in china and selling all of this stuff to the french. >> those two ships, they have a real stake in that. >> predictions, pat. >> scotland will vote to succeed from england this year. >> eleanor. >> scotland will not vote to succeed england this year. >> really? >> will settle up on the money afterwards, pat. >> i think scotland will vote. >> is that your prediction? scotland? >> what was your original prediction? >> it was less interesting than scotland. >> okay. mort. >> if he wears his kilt on the set, i promise to do whatever it takes to get them off the kilt. >> president obama's plans to close guantanamo before the end of the second term will suffer a fatal setback because of his
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